In an 11th-hour reversal, the city of Asheville’s Technical Review Committee will now vote on the controversial Parkside project on Monday.
Wednesday, WLOS reported that, due to concerns over how the development would deal with stormwater runoff, city staff would ask TRC to delay the hearing by two weeks. Now city staffers have changed their minds.
“The recommendation yesterday was to continue, but we’ve resolved that concern now, so we expect a decision [on Monday],” Interim Planning Director Shannon Tuch, noting that the item had never been formally taken off the agenda.
The change, coming just before the July Fourth holiday, has attracted the ire of activists who oppose the project. Activist and blogger Gordon Smith, who found out about the reversal in an e-mail from city planner Alan Glines, criticized the move on his Scrutiny Hooligans blog.
“For a project that has been so sharply criticized to move ahead when the public labors under the misconception that the hearing will be continued is to invite more outrage and more suspicion,” Smith wrote, calling on the city “to reschedule the Parkside hearing for a date and time when the public can attend.”
TRC will vote on the project, but can only use technical concerns in making their decision. The meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday in the first-floor conference room of Asheville City Hall.
In another development, residents announced a 3 p.m. training session Sunday to prepare residents for a “direct action campaign” aimed at stopping the Parkside project. The public is invited to the meeting, which will be held under the magnolia tree on Pack Square Park.
“The training will be to orientate people to non-violent civil disobedience,” Asheville resident Richard Koerber said in an interview Thursday. “The strategy is still being worked out. It’s going to be creative, and some of it is going to happen without prior notification.”
Koerber said he learned direct action techniques at the hands of some of the original Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement and as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. Frank T. Adams, former director of the Highlander Research and Education Center, an organization specializing in grassroots organizing, will also assist with the training, Koerber said.
“An escalating sense of urgency looms as the date for the city of Asheville’s Technical Review Committee meeting approaches,” Adams said in a news release.
Koerber said the aim is to set a tone of “respect and determination” to stop the condo project.
The parkland should remain in the hands of the public, Koerber said, and government leaders should pursue the option of eminent domain. “In many ways, it’s the fairest way to correct this, in my estimation,” Koerber said.
— David Forbes, staff writer and Jason Sandford, multimedia editor